Category Archives: Flavors of Texas

Flavors of Texas

University of Texas Tower

The Austin skyline has changed tremendously over the years but the, UT Austin Tower is the one landmark every weary traveler cranes his neck to spot on the horizon in order to know he’s close to home.UTTower

The 307-foot tall tower was designed by Paul Cret of Philadelphia, was completed in 1937 and with the lighting expertise of Carl J. Eckhardt Jr., this edifice has become the traditional visual spokesman for the university. When the tower is flooded in full orange you know that U.T. reined victorious over Texas A&M University.  There are other worthy reasons for this kind of lighting, like Commencement or other events that the president feels the need to celebrate with this honor.  Sometimes lights are left on in offices on certain floors that convey football scores or rankings in divisions. Nothing pleases a Longhorn fan more than to see the tower bathed in orange and lit up with an immense number one.UTcele

For an up close and personal view of the tower, the UT Tower’s observation deck is open for tours.  This historic building has recently been remodeled and reopened to the public after a 30-year closure!  To check out the amazing panoramic views of the city, and learn about the building’s history, you will need to make reservations through the Texas Union Information Center.  For more information go to:


An Irreverent Guide To Austin

austin, tx

1. Austin is proudly not like the rest of Texas. And, yes, Austin is proudly Texan. Get over that conundrum and you will fit right in. We don’t necessarily like the rest of Texas all that much, but we certainly despise out-of-state visitors insulting anything about the great state we live in.

2. Austin is hot, often. For many months of the year it is just ridiculous to be outside, unless you are swimming or drinking iced-tea or cold, cold beer. The best way to be noticed as an outsider is to comment or complain about the heat.  We know. It’s hot.

3. Driving in Austin is horrible and gets worse each day. Add rain, a football game, or an armadillo in the road, and things get ridiculous. Also, know that pedestrians have no rights. Be warned. And, of course in Austin, as in the entire state of Texas, it is against the law to use a turn signal. A turn signal may distract other drivers, causing them to stop in the middle of the road, so it is best to not advertise your intentions to turn or change lanes.

4. Learning roads and place names is required, but won’t come easy. Make a note that Mopac IS Loop 1; no one calls it Loop 1, though. Similarly, Capital of Texas Hwy is 360, and Research is 183. 2222 is Northland or Allendale or Koenig, depending on what part of 2222 you are talking about. 290 is Ben White, but there are two 290 exits on I-35, and one of which is 2222 (which, as mentioned earlier, is Northland, Allendale and Koenig). Don’t try to figure it out. Just accept it. Also, listen to how words like Guadalupe and Manchaca are pronounced. Yep, odd. But don’t try to change it.

5. Austin is eternally casual. Tattoos and shorts are common, everywhere. The rich might have dreadlocks and nose-rings. “Keep Austin Weird” is a local motto and clothing is no exception. You can wear cowboy boots, but you’ll be surrounded by high tops, flip-flops, and bare feet.

austinmusic6. Music, music, music. 365 nights a year the clubs in Austin are alive with working musicians. From country-swing to power-pop, jazz to rap, we offer a loving variety of sounds. Be sure to visit a live venue, tip the players and staff, and sit back and enjoy what we refer to as paradise.

Source: Stanford Texas Club

Texas Chile Peppers

jalapenoIn Texas, the chile pepper is a staple of many food dishes. Most Texans are familiar with the jalapeño, a medium-sized pepper typically picked when it is green. Originating in Mexico, the jalapeño is widely cultivated in Texas and in 1995 was designated the state pepper of Texas. It can be prepared pickled, smoked (chipolte), stuffed, or simply chopped in salsa. Flavorful, the jalapeño is nonetheless considered to be mild in the range of pepper heat levels.

chiltepinOn the other hand, the Chiltepin, also known as chile tepin, is a wild child pepper, native to Texas and surrounding areas that is very high in heat level. The tepin peppers are often cited as hotter than the habanero, though the tepin chile heat tends to diminish rapidly. In 1995, the Chiltepin became known as official native pepper of Texas. Most botanical experts believe the tepin chile is the oldest form of the pepper plant and, hence, mother of all subsequent peppers.

We love our peppers in Texas, be they the ever-popular jalapeño or the dangerously hot tepin chile.

Sweetwater: Home To Rattlesnake Roundup

Sweetwater, TXEach year, on the second weekend in March, the small town of Sweetwater, Texas begins to rattle and hum. Literally. Over the course of four days, Sweetwater is home to the Rattlesnake Roundup, the world’s largest event devoted to the venomous snake. Snake aficionados enjoy guided snake hunts, snake-handling demonstrations, and even eating fried rattlesnake! Folks less fond of the slithering creatures still find time for the Miss Snakecharmer Pageant, food booths, games, and other family-friendly events.


Initiated in 1958 by ranchers wanting to control the rattlesnake population in this area just west of Abilene, the Rattlesnake Roundup now draws over 40,000 people a year. People arrive early in the day to view the weigh-in for the World’s Largest Rattlesnake competition. Mid-day, they might join a rattlesnake tour run by the Sweetwater Jayvees, the event’s sponsor. Finally when hunger creeps up, they can enjoy some classic smoked meats as this event has one of the largest barbecue cook-offs in a state synonymous with cooking competitions. Make your plans to attend. It is never boring come March in Sweetwater.

Paddling Texas Rivers

Texas, with its extensive river system, stunning lakes, and lengthy coastline, offers plenty of opportunities for kayakers, canoe owners, and other water enthusiasts. Texas Parks and Wildlife has a program, called Texas Paddling Trails, designed to develop public inland and coastal paddling trails. The network of trails, supported with maps, signage, and other information, provide paddlers of all levels the structure necessary to ensure a safe and enjoyable outing. Additionally, the trails are free to the public.

Texas Kayaking

There are over a million paddlers in Texas alone, and demand for trails is high. Texas Parks and Wildlife often works with partners to develop new trails. For example, in February 2013, as part of World Wetlands Day, Texas Parks and Wildlife partnered with local community groups to launch ten paddling trails along the Big Cypress Bayou and Caddo Lake in east Texas. With these ten new trails there are close to 50 inland and coastal paddling trails documented by the state. Each trail is fully documented, complete with notes on getting to the launch site, what to expect while on the trip, and other things to do in the area. To view more about the paddling trips, visit:

Texas offers plenty of options for the outdoor enthusiastic. The paddling opportunities developed by Texas Parks and Wildlife complement the extensive off-road biking, hiking, and camping options. Combine two or more of these activities to create an action-packed outdoor adventure vacation.

Source: Texas Parks and Wildlife

Theatre in Austin

When you think of Texas Theatre, you probably think about that big ol’ production in Palo Duro Canyon with horses and cowboys or maybe you think about the stars who’ve risen from their native caliche laced soil like Farrah Fawcett and Larry Hagman. But Texas boasts some \ well respected theatre companies throughout this great state and none with a greater track record than The Paramount and Esther’s Follies in Austin, Texas.

Esther's Follies

Two short years after Saturday Night Live premiered television, Austin, Texas got it’s own modern day vaudeville company: Esther’s Follies. Located on the now famous 6th street, the 1977 iteration was less hospitable and consequently far less frequented by local revelers. The name Esther’s Follies refers to homage paid to Esther Williams, the queen of aquatic ballet, who has nothing to do with Austin or the location of the facility the company sits on. The venue is festooned with whimsical tromp loiel paintings of of creatures of the deep as well as the image of the star in all her bathing beauty glory. Every weekend for 35 years, Esther’s Follies has entertained her audiences with magic, satire and music. Austin now supports several comedy clubs but Esther’s is the reigning grand dame, of them all. Thursday- Sunday, Esther’s is open to the public, Sunday- Wednesday they’re available for private parties and corporate events.


The Paramount Theatre has stood on the same street for about 100 years. Which is a feat in and of itself given the changes that have taken place in the capitol city over the last 20 years. It opened in 1915 as a Vaudeville house and has continued to entertain Austinites ever since. It operates as a nonprofit, 501-3C these days with the mission to make performing arts accessible and available to as many people as possible. It participates in SXSW music and film festivals as well as The Austin Film Festival. The paramount also serves to bring in children from all over Austin to experience theatre and ballet in this site that has been restored to its 1915 grandeur. It’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places and remains one of the few theatres in the United States using ropes and sandbags! Whether you like film, book readings or rock n roll, The Paramount Theatre has something for everybody.


Xeriscaping: Creating Balance

Xeriscaping typically refers to landscaping an environment in a manner that reduces or eliminates the need for supplemental irrigation. What comprises a xeriscaped garden will depend upon its specific xeriscapinggeographic location. However, most xeriscaping adheres to the principles of planning/design; appropriate plant selection; efficient irrigation; practical turf areas; mulching; and maintenance

In Central Texas, and especially Austin, residential garden design traditionally included a large lawn, with border hedges and flowering beds. With this design has come the introduction of many non-native plants and St. Augustine lawn which requires significant water to maintain. The exploding population and catastrophic drought have led many people to rethink their garden and landscaping decisions. Into this mix has arisen xeriscaping which tends to favor the replacement of non-native species with local flora that is drought and disease tolerant. This can include the reduction or elimination of a lawn.

Xeriscaping will not eliminate the beauty of your garden. It will require thought and planning as well as regular maintenance. The joy and reward comes from learning about local plants and reducing your reliance of expensive and precious water resources. If you are considering landscaping your property, give some consideration to xeriscaping.

Source: Xeriscape Austin